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Jesus, also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, in which context he is known as Jesus Christ (from the Greek Ιησούς Χριστός ; transliteration: "Iesous Christos"; "Christ" not being a surname, but rather a title). He is also considered an important prophet in Islam.

Jesus is accepted to have been a historical person, by both followers of the Christian tradition and most academics, who lived from about 8-4 BC/BCE to AD 29-36 CE. The primary sources regarding his life and teachings, which took written form some time after his death, are the four canonical Gospels from the New Testament of the Bible, which depict him – among many other things – as a Jewish Galilean preacher and healer who was often at odds with Jewish religious authorities, and who was crucified outside of Jerusalem during the rule of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. After his death, numerous followers spread his teachings, and within a few centuries Christianity emerged as a major religion distinct from Judaism.

Beyond the historical information accepted by most secular scholars, the gospels make various additional claims about Jesus: that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible); that he was the son of God; that his mother Mary conceived Christ while a virgin; and that after his crucifixion he rose from the dead, and then ascended into heaven. Most Christians hold that the Gospels also attribute divinity to Jesus; however, others hold that the Gospels are equivocal on the subject. Many Christians and some scholars believe that the accounts in the New Testament are historical facts, though others maintain that different parts have different degrees of accuracy, and a few scholars hold Jesus did not exist at all.

In Islam, Jesus (called Isa) is considered one of God's most beloved and important prophets, a bringer of divine scripture, and also the messiah; although Muslims attach a different meaning to this term than Christians as they do not share the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus. The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, states unambiguously that Jesus neither died nor was crucified. The same passage, however, admits of multiple interpretations on his status after that event; the majority interpretation is that the Qur'an states that he was raised to heaven by God. (An alternate, and minority, interpretation, is that he was exalted among human beings.) Based on sayings attributed to Muhammad, Muslims believe Jesus will return to earth once it has become full of sin and injustice.

Other religions also have different perspectives on Jesus, but do not place significant importance on his life and teachings.


Life and teachings, based upon the Gospels

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Suggested years of Jesus'
birth and death based on
Gospel interpretations
c. 6 BC/BCE Birth (earliest)
c. 4 BC/BCE Herod's death
c. AD 6 CE Birth (latest);
Quirinius census
c. 26/27 Pilate appointed
Judea governor
c. 29 Death (earliest)
c. 36 Death (latest)
c. 36/37 Pilate removed
from office
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}} The most detailed accounts of Jesus' birth are contained in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. [1] There is considerable debate about the details of Jesus' birth even among Christian scholars, and few scholars claim to know either the year or the date of his birth or of his death.

Based on the accounts in the gospels of the shepherds' activities, the time of year depicted for Jesus' birth could be spring or summer. However, as early as 354, Roman Christians celebrated it following the December solstice in an attempt to replace the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Before then, Jesus' birth was generally celebrated on January 6 as part of the feast of Theophany, also known as Epiphany, which commemorated not only Jesus' birth but also his baptism by John in the Jordan River and possibly additional events in Jesus' life.

In the 248th year of the Diocletian Era (based on Diocletian's ascension to the Roman throne), Dionysius Exiguus attempted to pinpoint the number of years since Jesus' birth, arriving at a figure of 753 years after the founding of Rome. Dionysius then set Jesus' birth as being December 25 1 ACN (for "Ante Christum Natum", or "before the birth of Christ"), and assigned AD 1 to the following year—thereby establishing the system of numbering years from the birth of Jesus: Anno Domini (which translates as "in the year of the Lord"). This system made the then current year 532, and almost two centuries later it won acceptance and became the established calendar in Western civilization due to its championing by the Venerable Bede.

However, based on a lunar eclipse that Josephus reports shortly before the death of Herod the Great, the birth of Christ would have been some time before the year 4 BC/BCE. This estimate itself relies on the historicity of the story in the Gospel of Matthew of the Massacre of the Innocents under the orders of Herod — an event mentioned nowhere else in contemporaneous accounts. Having fewer sources and being further removed in time from the authors of the New Testament, establishing a reliable birth date now is particularly difficult.

The exact date of Jesus' death is also unclear. The Gospel of John depicts the crucifixion just before the Passover festival on Friday 14 Nisan, called the Quartodeciman, whereas the synoptic gospels describe the Last Supper, immediately before Jesus' arrest, as the Passover meal on Friday 15 Nisan. Further, the Jews followed a lunisolar calendar with phases of the moon as dates, complicating calculations of any exact date in a solar calendar. According to John P. Meier's A Marginal Jew, allowing for the time of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate and the dates of the Passover in those years, his death can be placed most probably on April 7, 30 or April 3, 33.

Family and early life

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Image:BethlehemBirth.gif According to the Gospels, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to Mary, a virgin, via the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Luke gives an account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to tell her that she was chosen to bear the son of God (Luke 1:26-28). Catholics call this the Annunciation. Joseph, Mary's betrothed husband, appears only in stories of Jesus' childhood; this is generally taken to mean that he was dead by the time of Jesus' ministry.

Major events in Jesus' life in the Gospels

Mark 6:3 (and analogous passages in Matthew and Luke) reports that Jesus was "Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon," and also states that Jesus had sisters. The 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus and the Christian historian Eusebius (who wrote in the 4th century but quoted much earlier sources that are now lost) refer to James the Just as Jesus' brother (See Desposyni). However, Jerome argued that they were Jesus' cousins, which the Greek word for "brother" used in the gospels would allow. This was based on the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition that Mary remained a perpetual virgin, thus having no biological children before or after Jesus. Luke's gospel records that Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36). The Bible, however, does not reveal exactly how Mary and Elizabeth were related.

Jesus' childhood home is represented as Nazareth in Galilee. Aside from a flight to Egypt in infancy to escape Herod's Massacre of the Innocents, all other events in the Gospels are set in ancient Israel. Only one incident between his infancy and his adult life, the Finding in the Temple, is mentioned in the canonical gospels, although New Testament apocrypha go into these details, some quite extensively.

For most Christians, only the virgin birth and the Incarnation itself are major articles of faith for this period of time before Jesus begins his ministry. Muslims also believe in the virgin birth, but aside from that, few non-Christians believe in either, and look upon stories of the virgin birth as mythological or indicating that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock.

Later life

Image:Baptism-christ.jpg According to Christian belief, just after he was baptized by his kinsman John the Baptist Jesus began his public teaching. According to the Gospel of Luke, he was about thirty years old at the time. Jesus used a variety of methods in his teaching, such as parables and metaphors. He frequently taught, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." Some of his most famous teachings are in the Sermon on the Mount, which also contains the beatitudes. His parables (or stories with a deep or metaphorical meaning) include the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Jesus had a number of disciples. His closest followers were twelve apostles. According to the New Testament, Jesus also performed various miracles in the course of his ministry, including healings, exorcisms, and raising Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus frequently put himself in opposition to the Jewish religious leaders including the Pharisees and Sadducees. His teaching castigated the Pharisees primarily for their legalism and hypocrisy, although he also had followers among the religious leaders such as Nicodemus. Jesus was also known as a social reformer, and because of the controversial view that he was the Jewish Messiah

Jesus' preachings included the forgiveness of sin, life after death, and resurrection of the body. Jesus also preached the imminent end of the current era of history, or even the literal end of the world; in this sense he was an apocalyptic preacher. Some interpretations of the Gospels, particularly amongst Protestants, suggest that Jesus opposed stringent interpretations of Jewish law, supporting the spirit more than the letter of the law.

It is commonly thought that Jesus preached for a period of three years, but this is never mentioned explicitly in any of the four gospels, and some interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels suggest a span of only one year; to achieve consistency with the Gospel of John, one theory suggests Jesus' public ministry took approximately one year.

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the end of his ministry is usually associated with the Passover Feast, but some scholars point out that details of the entry, such as the Hosanna shout, the waving of palm fronds, and the proclamation of a king, are more consistent with the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, than with Passover.This is likely because although the triumphal entry occurred around the time of Passover, the people reacted to it as if it were Sukkoth to celebrating the coming of a political messiah, as they had for Judah Macabee. Such celebration would be wiewed by Rome as an act of defiance, because it was associated with an earlier rebellion against the Greeks. Jesus however staged no such political rebellion, regardless of people's expectations.

Arrest, trial and execution

Image:Cristo Velázquez lou2.jpg Christian belief holds that Jesus came with his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival, and created a disturbance at the Temple by overturning the tables of the moneychangers there. He was subsequently arrested on the orders of the Sanhedrin and the high priest, Joseph Caiaphas for blasphemy, because he claimed to be God. He was identified to the guards by one of his apostles, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus by a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, after which another apostle, Peter, used a sword to attack one of the captors. After his arrest, Jesus' apostles went into hiding.

Jesus was condemned for blasphemy by the Sanhedrin and turned over to the Romans for execution, on the charge of sedition, the usual penalty for which was a humiliating death by crucifixion. According to the gospels, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate ruled that Jesus was not guilty of any civil crime and then, following what the Bible says was a Passover tradition, offered the crowd a choice of which prisoner to free — Jesus of Nazareth, or an insurrectionist named Jesus Barabbas. To his chagrin, the crowd chose to free Barabbas. According to all four gospels, Pilate then ordered Jesus to be crucified with a charge placed atop the cross (called the titulus crucis) which read "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". (The titulus crucis is often written as INRI, the Latin acronym.) The gospels further state that after Jesus died on the cross, his followers were allowed to take his body down and place it in a tomb

Resurrection and Ascension

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In accordance with the four canonical gospel accounts Christians believe that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. This article of faith is referred to in Christian terminology as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and each year at Easter (on a Sunday) it is commemorated and celebrated by most groups who consider themselves Christians.

No one was a witness to the resurrection. However, the women who had witnessed the entombment and the closure of the tomb with a great stone, found it empty when they arrived on the third day to anoint the body. The synoptic gospel accounts further state that an angel was waiting at the tomb to explain to them that Jesus had been resurrected, though the Gospel according to John makes no mention of this encounter. The sight of the same angel had apparently left the guards unconscious (cf. Matt 28:2–4) that, according to Matthew 27:62–66, the high priests and Pharisees, with Pilate's permission, had posted in front of the tomb to prevent the body from being stolen by Jesus' disciples. Mark 16:9 says that Mary Magdalene was the first to whom Jesus appeared very early that morning. John 20:11–18 states that when Mary looked into the tomb, two angels asked her why she was crying; and as she turned round she initially failed to recognize Jesus—even by his voice—until he called her by her name. The Gospel accounts and the Acts of the Apostles tell of several appearances of Jesus to various people in various places over a period of forty days before he ascended into heaven. Just hours after his resurrection he appeared to two travelers on the road to Emmaus. To his assembled disciples he showed himself on the evening after his resurrection, but Thomas was absent, though he was present when Jesus repeated his visit to them a week later. Thereafter he went to Galilee and showed himself to several of his disciples by the lake and on the mountain; and they were present when he returned to Bethany and was lifted up to heaven and a cloud concealed him from their sight.

The resurrection of Jesus is almost universally denied by those who do not follow the Christian religion.

Most Christians—even those who do not hold to the literal truth of everything in the canonical gospel accounts—accept the New Testament presentation of the Resurrection as a historical account of an actual event central to their faith. Therefore, belief in the resurrection is one of the most distinctive elements of Christian faith; and defending the historicity of the resurrection is usually a central issue of Christian apologetics. However, some liberal Christians do not accept that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead, or that he still lives bodily (e.g., John Shelby Spong, Tom Harpur). What is more interesting to note in context of the resurrection story was the manner in which the desciples died years later under the Roman Empire. Some were roasted, had their flesh flayed or even were mauled by wild beasts. None relented, even unto death, their claim that Christ was indeed resurrected and who he claimed to be. Either they were all mad men plagued by demented twisted ideals or they had found a truth so real they were prepared to die quite violently and painfully for.


Image:Eccehomo2.jpg According to most Christian interpretations of the Bible, the theme of Jesus' preaching was that of repentance and grace. During his public ministry Jesus extensively trained twelve Apostles to continue after his departure his leadership of the many who had begun to follow him mainly in the towns and villages throughout Galilee, Samaria, and the Decapolis.

Most Christians hold that Jesus' miracles were literally true, not allegory, and that the Apostles gained the power to perform similar miracles and healings on Jews and Gentiles alike after they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit of Truth (to pneuma tēs alētheias, John 14:17, 26; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8, 2:4) that Jesus had promised the Father would send them after his departure—a promise that according to Acts 2:4 was fulfilled at Pentecost, the Jewish feast that, in addition to other Scriptural events, commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses. For Christians, the legacy Jesus left was one of sacrifice; they believe that Jesus was sent by God to die as a sacrifice in place of all humanity. Christians hold that this sacrifice had to take place because all man is born into a nature of sin (they claim, based on scripture, that God's penalty for sin is death and separation from God) so God sent his Son to die in their place. Christians believe Jesus' body was resurrected and ascended into heaven, so they believe that none of Jesus' body is on earth. The only body that remains of Christ on earth is figurative and embodied in the Church. The church is often referred to as the "body of Christ".

Non-Christians generally reject these claims. Ironically (given Jesus's Jewish identity, and profession of love), for some the legacy of Jesus was a long history of Christian anti-Semitism (of course, always with exceptions), although in the wake of the Holocaust many Christian groups have gone to considerable lengths to reconcile with Jews and to promote inter-faith dialogue and mutual respect. This was more prevalent during the medieval reign of the Roman Catholic Church and in modern times considered to be the view of and extremely small minority. For others, Christianity has often been linked to European colonialism (see British Empire, Portuguese Empire, Spanish Empire, French colonial empire, Dutch colonial empire); conversely, Christians have often found themselves as oppressed minorities outside of Europe and the Americas.

Other legacies include the religions of Christianity and their churches, the adoption of the cross as a symbol, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Anno Domini method of reckoning years, and celebrations at Christmas and Easter.

Religious perspectives

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}} Jesus has an important role in the two largest world religions, Christianity and Islam. Most other religions, however, do not consider Jesus to have been a supernatural or holy being. Some of these religions, like Buddhism, do not take any official stance on Jesus' life, while others, such as those practicing Jesus's own religion at the time of his death, Judaism, generally reject claims of Jesus's divinity and regard him as a false prophet.

Christian views

Image:Ushakov Nerukotvorniy.jpg Christians believe in and follow what they believe to be the teachings of Jesus. However, Christianity quite naturally has a more specific and involved meaning, as most Christians hold similar beliefs regarding Jesus and his life that are largely rejected by non-Christians. Generally speaking, most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, part of a trinity of three persons of God, and the Messiah, who came to earth to save mankind from sin and death through his proxy sacrifice. Most believe Jesus lived a perfect life and that is why his death on a cross, called the crucifixion, counts as a sacrifice for mankind. According to Christian tradition the disobeying of God's command by the first man Adam caused all mankind to suffer the consequences of sin entering the world. Scriptures often refer to death as "seperation from God" and to sin being something that God the Father cannot tolerate. As a result of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, all mankind who believe in Jesus being God's only son and in his resurrection, may have eternal life. Most believe that after Jesus's death he rose from the grave on the third day and forty days after that ascended to Heaven. There are many differing views within Christian groups as to whether or not Jesus ever claimed divinity. The majority of Christian laypeople, theologians, and clergy hold that the Bible clearly states Jesus both to be divine and to claim divinity in many passages. Most also believe that Jesus's resurrection is additional proof that he is God. However, some people (both Christian and non-Christian) maintain that there are passages in the New Testament that clearly have Jesus stating that he was not equal with God, and that other passages are ambiguous about such claims.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains that Jesus is the very same as Jehovah or Yahweh of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible but is distinct from God the Father; that he is the Creator of the Universe; that he spent the interval between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection organizing a Mission in the Spirit World for the righteous spirits to teach the gospel to those in darkness; and that he visited both the inhabitants of the ancient Americas and other locations throughout the world after his Resurrection.

Islamic views

In Islam, Jesus is known as Isa, and is one of God's highest-ranked and most-beloved prophets. Like Christian writings, the Qur'an holds that Jesus was born without a biological father by the will of God, that he could perform miracles, and that he will one day return to the world to rid it of evil. However, unlike Christians, Muslims do not consider Jesus to have been the son of God, and do not believe that he died on the cross. Instead, the Qur'an states that his death was only an illusion (done by God) to deceive his enemies, and that Jesus ascended bodily to heaven. Muslims believe he will return to the world in the flesh with Imam Mahdi to defeat the Dajjal (Antichrist-like figure, translated as "Deceiver") once the world has become filled with sin, deception and injustice, and then live out the rest of his natural life.

Muslims also believe that Jesus received a gospel from God (called the Injeel) that corresponds to the Christian New Testament, but that it and the Old Testament have both been changed by mankind over time as such that they no longer accurately represent God's original message to mankind. In Muslim traditions, Jesus lived a perfect life of nonviolence, showing kindness to humans and animals (similar to the other Islamic prophets), without material possessions and abstaining totally from alcohol and from the flesh of animals.

The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam believes that Jesus survived the crucifixion and later travelled to India, where he lived and died as a prophet under the name of Yuz Asaf.

Jewish views

Judaism rejects both the Christian belief that Jesus was the Messiah and the Muslim belief that he was a prophet. Judaism states that there were no prophets after the prophet Malachi, and still awaits the coming of the Messiah. Jewish belief does not completely reject all of the historical information contained in Gospels, but does reject all of the confessions by early Christian adherents, especially Paul.

Eastern religions

Hindu beliefs in Jesus vary from those who consider him to have been just a normal man, or even purely a fable, to those who believe that he was an avatar of God. A large number of Hindus consider Jesus to have been a wise guru or yogi, some even suggesting that he spent his "lost years" learning various Hindu beliefs in India. The Hindutva historian P.N. Oak has even claimed that Jesus was in fact Krishna, and that Christianity originated as a form of his worship. Many in the Surat Shabd Yoga tradition regard Jesus as a Satguru. Mahatma Gandhi considered Jesus one of his main teachers and inspirations for Nonviolent Resistance.

Although Buddhism in general attributes no spiritual significance to Jesus, some Buddhists believe that Jesus may have been a Bodhisattva, one who has dedicated his or her future to the happiness of all beings. Some Buddhists also interpret Jesus through Zen Buddhism, sometimes basing their perspective on the Gospel of Thomas.

The Bahá'í Faith considers Jesus to be one of many "Manifestations" (or prophets) of God, with both human and divine stations.

Negative views

Some religions consider Jesus to be a false prophet. Mandaeanism regards Jesus as a deceiving prophet of the false Jewish god Adunay, and an opponent of the good prophet John the Baptist—whom they nonetheless believe to have baptized him. Some Satanists consider Jesus to have been the son or a follower of Satan, or Satan himself, but most do not hold any spiritual beliefs regarding Jesus.

Other Views

The Ebionites believed that Jesus was a great prophet and the Messiah, but not divine. They rejected the Epistles of Paul, and asserted that Jesus did not consider the Biblical laws to be abrogated, but instead wanted his followers to abide by them. Some Ebionites claimed the leadership of Saint James, the Brother of Jesus, but no historical connection between James and the sect has been substantiated.

The New Age movement entertains a wide variety of views on Jesus. with some representatives (such as A Course In Miracles) going so far as to trance-channel him. Many recognize him as a "great teacher" (or "Ascended Master") similar to Buddha, and teach that Christhood is something that all may attain. At the same time, many New Age teachings, such as reincarnation, appear to reflect a certain discomfort with traditional Christianity. Numerous New Age subgroups claim Jesus as a supporter, often incorporating contrasts with or protests against the Christian mainstream. Thus, for example, Theosophy and its offshoots have Jesus studying esotericism in the Himalayas or Egypt during his "lost years".


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Most modern scholars hold that the works describing Jesus were initially communicated by oral tradition, and were not committed to writing until several decades after Jesus' crucifixion. The earliest extant texts which refer to Jesus are Paul's letters, which are usually dated from the mid-1st century. Paul saw Jesus only in visions, but he claimed that they were divine revelations and hence authoritative (1 Galatians 11-12). The earliest extant texts describing Jesus in any detail were the four New Testament Gospels. These texts, being part of the Biblical canon, have received much more analysis and acceptance from Christian sources than other possible sources for information on Jesus.

Many apocryphal texts have also surfaced detailing events in Jesus' life and teachings, chief among them the Gospel of Thomas, a "sayings gospel" or logia consisting primarily of phrases attributed to Jesus. Other New Testament apocrypha, generally considered less important, include the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of Mary, the Infancy Gospels, the Gospel of Peter, the Unknown Berlin Gospel, the Naassene Fragment, the Secret Gospel of Mark, the Egerton Gospel, the Oxyrhynchus Gospels and the Fayyum Fragment.

Earlier texts?

Some texts with even earlier historical or mythological information on Jesus are speculated to have existed prior to the Gospels, though none are extant. Based on the unusual similarities and differences (see synoptic problem) between the Synoptic GospelsMatthew, Mark and Luke, the first three canonical gospels—many Biblical scholars have suggested that oral tradition and logia (such as the Gospel of Thomas and the theoretical Q document) probably played a strong role in initially passing down stories of Jesus, and may have inspired some of the Synoptic Gospels.

Specifically, many scholars believe that the Q document and the Gospel of Mark were the two sources used for the gospels of Matthew and Luke; however, other theories, such as the older Augustinian hypothesis, continue to hold sway with some Biblical scholars. Another theoretical document is the Signs Gospel, believed to have been a source for the Gospel of John.[2] There is little consensus concerning how and when any of these documents were circulated, if they were at all.

The ecumenical council meetings in the 4th century that discussed which works should and should not be included in the canon were largely unconcerned with modern historical sensibilities, utilizing few techniques of objective textual analysis. Instead, their discussions generally tended to center upon theology, rather than upon historicity. However, noted scholars F.F. Bruce, Bruce Metzger and others argue that some historical details were taken into consideration regarding the New Testament canon. It may be surmised that the early church leaders took for granted that historicity was not an issue to be debated, any more than debating the historicity of the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution would be major issues today. [3][4][5] In addition, Bible scholar Bruce Metzger wrote regarding the formation of the canonical New Testament:

"Although the fringes of the emerging canon remained unsettled for generations, a high degree of unanimity concerning the greater part of the New Testament was attained among the very diverse and scattered congregations of believers not only throughout the Mediterranean world, but also over an area extending from Britain to Mesopotamia." [6]

Questions of reliability

As a result of the many-decade time gap between the writing of the Gospels and the events they describe the accuracy of all early texts claiming the existence of Jesus or details of Jesus' life have been disputed by various parties. The authors of the gospels are traditionally thought to have been witnesses to the events included. After the original oral stories were written down, they were transcribed, and later translated into other languages. However, several Biblical historians have responded to claims of the unreliability of the gospel accounts by pointing out that historical documentation is often biased and second-hand, and frequently dates from several decades after the events described.

Even among those who believe that Jesus existed, however, there are still numerous divisions over the historical accuracy of the canonical gospels. Some say that the Gospel accounts are neither objective nor accurate, since they were written or compiled by his followers and seem to exclusively portray a positive, idealized view of Jesus. Those who have a naturalistic view of history, as a general rule, do not believe in divine intervention or miracles, such as the resurrection of Jesus mentioned by the Gospels. One method used to estimate the factual accuracy of stories in the gospels is known as the "criterion of embarrassment", which holds that stories about events with embarrassing aspects (such as the denial of Jesus by Peter) would likely not have been included if not true.

External influences on gospel development

A minority of scholars believe that the gospel accounts of Jesus have little or no historical basis. At least in part, this is because there are many similarities between stories about Jesus and contemporary myths of pagan godmen such as Mithras, Apollo, Attis, Horus and Osiris-Dionysus, leading to conjectures that the pagan myths were adopted by some authors of early accounts of Jesus to form a syncretism with Christianity. Some Christian authors, such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, believed that such myths were created by ancient pagans with vague and imprecise foreknowledge of the Gospels. While these connections are disputed by many, it is nevertheless true that many elements of Jesus' story as told in the Gospels have parallels in pagan mythology, where miracles such as virgin birth were well-known.

Scholars such as A. N. Sherwin-White, FF Bruce, John Wenham, Gary Habermas and others argue for a high degree of historical reliability of the key New Testament events or the New Testament as a whole (see: Resurrection of Jesus for details). [7][8][9] Prominent liberal scholar John A.T. Robinson argued for early dates of the entire New Testament and ascribed many of the key New Testament texts to their traditional authors. [10]


  1. ^  The Gospels of the Bible,
  2. ^  Daniel Gaztambide (2005), "So Sayeth The Lord... According to Who?".
  3. ^  Stephen Voorwinde, "The formation of the New Testament", Patornet. Accessed October 25, 2005.
  4. ^  F. F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are they reliable?, "Chapter 3: The Canon of the New Testament" (June, 1982), ISBN 087784691X, Inter-Varsity Press.
  5. ^  Coey Keating (December 11, 2005), "Criteria for development of the New Testament canon in the first four centuries of the Christian Church", Fuller Theological Seminary.
  6. ^  Bruce Metzger (1987), The New Testament Canon, page 254.
  7. ^  Josh McDowell (1992), "Evidence for the Resurrection".
  8. ^  F.F. Bruce (1959), "THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS Are they Reliable?".
  9. ^  Gary Habermas (2001), "Why I Believe The New Testament Is Historically Reliable".
  10. ^  John Robinson

Other topics pertaining to Jesus

Wikisource has original text related to this article:


Jesus probably lived in Israel for most of his life and he probably spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. Israel in the 1st century, when Jesus lived, was the center of Jewish culture. Jewish society had different religious sects such the Pharisees and Sadducees, and it had different peoples such as beggars, lepers, blind, and crippled. At this time the Jewish state was occupied by Rome. Most scholars agree the Gospels were written after the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans. See Cultural and historical background of Jesus and Aramaic of Jesus for more about Israel in Jesus' day and what he spoke.

Jesus' sayings according to the Christian Bible

Many of the sayings attributed to Jesus have become part of the culture of Western civilization. No small selection of sayings that would fit in this article would fairly represent his sayings. See wikiquote:Jesus and Jesus' sayings according to the Christian Bible for more.

Topics related to Jesus

Names and titles

Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name rendered Joshua in English. It literally means "God saves". Christ (which is a title and not a part of his name) is an Anglicization of the Greek term for Messiah, and literally means "anointed one". Jesus is referred to by many titles and names: see Names and titles of Jesus.

Artistic and dramatic portrayals

Jesus has been drawn, painted, sculpted, and portrayed on stage in many different ways. See Dramatic portrayals of Jesus and Images of Jesus for more about these differing portrayals.

Relics of Jesus

There are many items which are purported to be authentic relics of Jesus. The most famous of these are the Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium of Oviedo, and the Holy Grail. Many modern Christians do not accept any of these as true relics. See Relics of Jesus for more about these and other possible relics.

Interpretations of Jesus by influential leaders

Jesus has been explained and understood by many people. Jesus has been explained notably by Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and more recently by C.S. Lewis. Go to Jesus as understood by influential leaders for more people who have interpreted Jesus.

See also

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Religious views

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Historical and skeptical views

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